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Former MU professor John Elias was loving father who gave back to community

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 | 3:48 p.m. CDT; updated 9:00 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 30, 2012
John E. Elias, Dec. 11, 1936 — May 21, 2012, of Columbia.

COLUMBIA — Dr. John Elias, a former MU marketing professor, was many things: a fisherman, a horse and dog trainer, a hunter and a community service leader. He was also the father of four children.

"He was a fantastic dad," daughter Lisa Martin said. "He gave us a lot of things other kids didn't get to experience.

"We used to watch storms together. He would say, 'Come on, Lisa, let's go watch the storm,' and we would run out to the barn and watch the storm from the loft."

Dr. Elias died Monday, May 21, 2012. He was 75.

Dr. Elias was born Dec. 11, 1936, in Atchison, Kan., to Agnes and Hubert Elias. He attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln before coming to MU to pursue his doctorate in marketing. He retired from MU in 1989 after 25 years of teaching.

He lived up the hill from Judy Lee Eckart, his childhood sweetheart and eventual wife, said daughter Paula Elias. The couple married in 1959.

Dr. Elias raised his children on a 25-acre farm near Midway, outside of Columbia. There, he trained and bred horses with Martin.

"When a foal was going to be born, we would go out to the barn in the middle of the night and wait for the baby," she said. 

Dr. Elias was an active member of his community and gave back to it. He was a member of Boonslick Kiwanis Club and participated in Boy Scouts of America with his sons, Alan and Michael Elias. He also founded Inter-Tech Inc., a mentoring program dedicated to supporting disadvantaged youth. Dr. Elias also wrote multiple textbooks and one work of fiction, "The Northlander."

As a professor, Dr. Elias cared very much for his students.

"He loved being a teacher," Paula Elias said. "He was very generous. He helped people who didn't get the best start in life."

Dr. Elias is survived by four children, Lisa Martin and her husband, Keith, of Columbia, Alan Elias and his wife, Dawn, of Austin, Texas, Michael Elias and his wife, Chris, of Marina Del Rey, Calif., and Paula Elias and her husband, Ken Leija, of Columbia; six siblings, Bill Elias and his wife, Julie, of Six Mile, S.C., Mary Kay Elias Bohannon and her husband, Lee, of Kansas City, Anne McNulty and her husband, Tim, of Chicago, Sr. Therese Elias of Kansas City, Charles Elias and his wife, Ginny, of Atchison, Kan., and Dorothy Lickteig and her husband, Wayne, of Corpus Christi, Texas; and seven grandchildren, Daniel Nichols and Marissa Nichols of Columbia, Jakob Elias and Brianna Elias of Austin, Texas, Allison Elias of Marina Del Rey, Calif., Quanah Leija-Elias of Santa Fe, N.M., and Rafael Leija-Elias of Columbia. 

His wife died earlier.

A visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the church. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 903 Bernadette Drive. 

Supervising editor is Ann Elise Taylor.


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